I’m kinda a history buff. I’ve always loved all things history. I loved my history classes in school, I love the History Channel (the good shows), and I love researching genealogy. Recently, I’ve started reading Washington by Ron Chernow. Some of you may recognize Chernow’s name from the currently sold-out-for-6-months Broadway musical, Hamilton: An American Musical, based on Chernow’s book, Hamilton (next on my reading list). Well, it’s an 800 page book about the life of George Washington and it’s super good! I’m only 300 pages in but I’ve already gained a ton of insight into the beginning of this great nation we call home. Since we are in an election year, it has been particularly interesting to learn about the founding of our country and to look at the first President versus the most recent Presidents. So here are some interesting things I’ve learned thus far:
- The Revolution was started by the 1%.
That’s right. Though the continental army was comprised of a raggedly band of farmers and working class people, the majority of the heavy hitters were the wealthiest of the crew. Chernov notes in his book that the American Revolution was the only ‘revolution’ started by this class of people: the Far Right. For example, Washington was an extremely wealthy Virginian tobacco planter. His beef with England? England frequently overcharged him for luxury items and refused to acknowledge colonial military men’s rank and experience (Washington was constantly having to submit to English-born military officers even though he outranked them). To put it simply, King George hurt his pride and his pocket book. But these wealthy men weren’t just out for themselves, their ideology was built on the foundation that the colonists should be treated the same as England-born citizens.
- The Revolutionists weren’t all that well-liked.
As I mentioned, the Revolution spawned from the Far Right. And a lot of colonists thought they were crazy and ‘radical’. The Colonial Army was outgunned and out manned by a very scary amount and was facing the greatest military power in the world at that time. The number of Colonial troops was usually around 9,000 men and slumped to 2,000 on many occasions during the beginning of the war. That is not a whole lot of people. Why so small? Because everyone else were either Tories or thought that fighting was useless because we could never win. Which brings me to my next point:
- WE SHOULD NOT HAVE WON THIS WAR.
Y’all… seriously. I haven’t finished the part of the book where we win (SPOILER ALERT) but thus far all Washington is talking about it how all his soldiers keep retreating or deserting. Oh, and Washington really wasn’t the greatest at military strategy (which he finds out pretty quickly and thus decides to surround himself with really smart people). We lose so many battles because of inexperience it’s insane. My favorite part of each battle so far is when Chernov writes something along the lines of “and by sheer coincidence, the weather got bad enough that the Colonists were able to escape” or “General Howe decided not to follow the retreating Colonial Army even though he could demolish them. He just would rather not” (General Howe missed countless opportunities to stop the war). We won the war through frontier military strategy (aka- going crazy and steeling cannons, surprising drunk Hessians, etc…. Washington was really just playing defense until he could find the British drunk or asleep) and by joining with the French (They saved us big time).
- George Washington is a cool guy.
Though not always the brightest, he makes up for his mistakes with a whole lot of courage, heart, determination, and humility (A trait he isn’t born with but learns over time). He is willing to give his all to the Revolution even if it means giving his life. He is a pretty cool dude. #Washington2016
I’m just about to get to the part where Washington meets Alexander Hamilton so I’m going to get back to reading (THIS IS EXCITING STUFF PEOPLE). Later.